Sanctioned Russian oligarch applies for social security in Switzerland

Sanctioned Russian oligarch applies for social security in Switzerland

A wealthy Russian oligarch living in Geneva has applied for social security after sanctions applied by the Swiss government denied him access to his bank account. The Swiss state has since denied the application.

The oligarch said he would not be able to afford groceries from Migros

Swiss newspaper Tribune de Genève found that the oligarch, who has Swiss citizenship, complained to authorities that he would soon be unable to buy his groceries from the Swiss supermarket Migros, if they did not give him access to emergency welfare. The social welfare office in the canton of Geneva told the newspaper that the reason they had rejected the oligarch’s application was that they believed the person to have other assets, including housing, that could be used to raise funds.

The oligarch in question is one of approximately 1.000 Russian nationals who are subject to sanctions under Swiss law, due to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. The State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) stressed that the sanctions could be reversed in some cases, but that such a process would be taken on a case by case basis, adding that so far, no concessions had been made for this individual. 

Social security in Switzerland is only made available to selected individuals

Swiss social security is only made available to the most vulnerable individuals who cannot afford to cover their living costs each month. Because of this, it is unlikely that the government would have offered payments to the oligarch in any case, since they have enough funds, but are simply unable to access them at this time. 

Sanctions have not only hit wealthy Russian oligarchs, but have also caused problems for the employees of Russian companies in Switzerland. While the global SWIFT ban on most Russian banks has made it hard for employees to receive their salaries, some firms have been forced to fire workers altogether. 

Natalyia, who did not wish to give her real name, told Watson, “We are Swiss citizens and ordinary employees with ordinary wages, we have families and financial obligations.” She added that both herself and her colleagues in Switzerland were not directly sanctioned by Switzerland, but were still indirectly affected by the measures.

Emily Proctor


Emily Proctor

Emily grew up in the UK before moving abroad to study International Relations and Chinese. She then obtained a Master's degree in International Security and gained an interest in journalism....

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